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The student newspaper of Imperial College London

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Issue 1847 (PDF)
The student newspaper of Imperial College London

Keep the Cat Free

Slug shuts down after post-Covid slump

Imperial's favourite nightspot closed its doors in March amid ‘sector-wide challenges’.

Slug Website 2 Photo: Rolando Charles for Felix


in Issue 1847

The Redback at Fulham, known to students as Slug, closed in the final week of March after its owner entered administration.

The pub was a favourite haunt of Imperial’s sports teams, who turned out in droves for its Wednesday student nights and cheap drinks.

RedCat Leased Pubs Limited (RCLP), which operates 10 pubs across the UK including The Redback, was placed into administration after it was unable to meet its financial obligations.

A spokesperson for Interpath Advisory, which has been appointed administrator, said RCLP had been ‘impacted by the wider challenges facing the pub sector’, including a slow recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, changing consumer habits, and the cost-of-living crisis.

The Redback is one of five RCLP pubs that Interpath closed upon its appointment.

‘Financial challenges have weighed heavily on the company in recent years which rendered it unable to continue in its current form,’ said Nick Holloway, Managing Director at Interpath and joint administrator of RCLP.

‘The administration now provides a period in which we can undertake a marketing process to explore a sale of business and assets of the pubs either individually or as a group. We expect interest from across the industry.’

Upon its closure, squatters took to The Redback, and over two weekends unlicenced music events were held at the premises.

Speaking two weeks ago, Greg Hands – MP for Chelsea and Fulham – praised police, who he said had “intervened” and taken “decisive and quick action”. He added that the pub would be closed for up to three months.

A sign posted at the entrance to The Redback, and dated 22nd April 2024, says that Ilona House Investments Limited has applied for a licence to sell alcohol at the premises and use it for ‘the provision of regulated entertainment’ and ‘late night refreshment’.

In the mid-to-late 2000s, The Redback was called Fiesta Havana. It was renamed The Slug @ Fulham in 2013, leading to its current nickname, ‘Slug’.

The pub was rechristened once again in the summer of 2019, taking on its most recent name, The Redback at Fulham.

Fiesta Havana Website Photo: Ewan Munro, CC BY-SA 2.0
The Redback in 2009, when it was called Fiesta Havana.

A former member of staff at the pub said that even in the weeks leading up to closure, Wednesday nights at the Redback continued to attract large numbers of students. Long queues extended out into the street, and locals complained to the council about the noise.

But the former employee felt that it was a decline in custom on other days of the week that led to The Redback’s closure.

“Before Covid, Fridays and Saturdays were crazy busy,” they said. “We had Aussies, Kiwis, South Africans coming in, it was packed. Now it’s dead quiet.”

On Thursdays, the Bogan Bingo game show drew in revellers, but that ended in December when the show’s hosts left London.

“After that, we didn’t really have any customers in on Thursdays. Student nights were the only busy ones.”

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